AWRI Information Services Center
Lower Grand Watershed Interactive Tool (WIT) - Lawn Fertilizer
Don't Guess...Soil Test!
Don't assume your plants need fertilizer. Perform a soil test. You'll save money and reduce the chance of over-applying by only replacing the nutrients your soil is actually missing. Michigan State University Extension offers easy-to-use soil nutrient testing boxes, and recommends a soil test every two or three years. To find out more, call the extension office in your area: 616-336-3265 (Kent County) or 616-846-8250 (Ottawa County)
Choose the Correct Fertilizer
Use slow-release fertilizers that provide a slow, steady source of nutrients for plants. This also prevents the big spurt of growth common with synthetic fertilizers. Slow-release fertilizers come in a variety of types: organic, timed-release, and coated. You may want to talk to a lawncare professional to find out what's best for your yard. Avoid "weed-and-feed" mixtures. These contain herbicides to control weed growth and are often applied where they aren't needed. If healthy lawn care practices (correct mowing height and watering) are followed, weed control shouldn't be necessary. Be sure your mower is set to three inches to help shade out unwanted weeds.
How Often, How Much?
Unless you're maintaining a golf course, you can have a beautiful lawn by fertilizing only two or three times a year:
- Either apply twice a year, in late spring (late April or early May) and fall (September or October)
- Or apply three times a year, in late spring (Memorial Day), early fall (Labor Day), and late fall (Thanksgiving)
A Citizen's Guide to Lawn Fertilizer (PDF, 825kb)
Information and images displayed here were taken from the stormwater tip card series, funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the Bear Creek Restoration Project.
Grand Valley Metro Council
40 Pearl St. NW, Ste. 410
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Page last modified January 19, 2011